Coronavirus: Counting all deaths in care centres is 'dumb'

Coronavirus: Counting all deaths in care centres is 'dumb'
Credit: VRT

It is "dumb" that almost all deaths that occur in residential care centres in Belgium at the moment are being counted as deaths because of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), according to Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst.

"Almost all people who die in a residential care centre, which is about a hundred people every day, end up in those statistics," said Van Ranst in the television programme De Afspraak. "I think that is dumb," he said, adding that he also meant that people who die from a heart attack, for example, are being counted.

The number of deaths caused by the coronavirus in residential care centres is being overestimated this way, according to him.

Processing the data coming from the residential care centres is also very difficult, as the way of reporting in the different centre is not the same, he said. "We have 104 hospitals, and everyone there succeeds in counting deaths. We have 1,500 residential care centres. Some report, some don't, and we're trying to get that together," Van Ranst said.

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"The nursing homes are currently required to make their own estimates, based on suspicions and symptoms, of who is infected or has died from the effects of the coronavirus," said Steffen Van Roosbroeck, a spokesperson for Flemish Minister of Public Health Wouter Beke to Het Nieuwsblad.

"There are, of course, other diseases with symptoms similar to coronavirus. It is not inconceivable that the actual number of deaths due to the coronavirus is lower than the statistics now indicate. It's precisely for this reason that we're going to do more tests and check whether the estimates correspond to reality," he added.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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